Feed on

The following brief history of the church is thought to have been put together by Graham Hale, formerly churchwarden

A History of Redmarley Church

The church that stands in the middle of Redmarley village is the second, and possibly, the third building to occupy this site. The “Victoria History” contains a reference to Redmarley Church as follows: The first mention of a church in Redmarley is in 1290, when the Bishop of Worcester dedicated three altars there”. A further confirmation is the appointment of a priest, one Adam de Hernwynton, in 1305 and over the next 700 years, 37 names appear on the Table of Incumbents, together with their patrons and dates of appointment. More, perhaps, of this later.

This early date of a church was confirmed in 1989 when a violent storm damaged two very large trees in the churchyard. One was an old yew tree in the north section of the churchyard and the other was a fine Cedar (of Lebanon) which was growing on the south side. The damage to both was quite severe and a tree surgeon attended to make what repairs were possible and hopefully save them. He estimated the age of the yew at about 700 years and that of the cedar about 140 years. These ages correspond quite
closely to 1290 and 1855 and it can be assumed that the trees were planted to commemorate the building of the two churches we know were built on this site. However, I find it hard to believe that a building erected round about 1300 with the materials available to a small country parish could survive some 500 years. It is my opinion, and I have no proof, that the building mentioned in the Victoria History was replaced by a more substantial one and that this is the church that was replaced in 1856. There are some clues to be found in the parish registers which incumbents of yesteryear often used as a diary. In addition to recording baptisms, marriages and deaths, little notation can be found about the building and these give a different ‘picture of the church in the 16th century to the one described in 1290.

There is now only one altar, rather than three, and in 1553 during the reign of Edward VI, an inventory of Redmarley Church was carried out. This paints a picture of an established church with a tower surmounted by a steeple with four bells, church ornaments of silver and brass and some 230 people able to receive communion. We know that the building was of stone because Thomas Rodd (1719- 1730) records that in 1721 the walls were plastered. Another clue might also be the fact that it is during the first half of the 16th century that parish records began. (It wasn’t until 1830 that it became obligatory for records of baptisms, marriages and deaths to be kept.)

By 1738 it was necessary to demolish the tower and steeple and Johannes Rodd (1730-1745) records this in the parish register in use at this time, (A new tower was rebuilt with six bells). A large wooden chest can be found in the Tower Vestry which comes from this period. It is dated 1761 and bears the names of the two churchwardens of that time. It is made of oak and is in excellent condition.

The next reference to this building appears in Nash’s Victoria History in 1781: “The Church is dedicated to St Bartholomew and formerly it had a low spire, the present tower being built in 1738; it contains 6 bells. The inside of the church and chancel are dry and neat. In the middle of the chancel is a tombstone with a blank shield and on a stone on the south side of the chancel is the subscription: ‘Here lieth and sleepeth under this stone fast closed in clay the corpse of Thomas Holford, gentleman, which was here buried upon the 11th day of March, A.D. 1619 aged 47. There is another stone to the memory of Richard Morley, barrister-at-law, who died April 21st 1727 aged 75″.

There are no further references to the church in the parish registers and little appears to have been done in the way of maintenance for the next 70 years. Then in 1854 an article appears in the “The Rambler in Worcestershire” which givesa most distressing account of the state of Redmarley Church as follows:

 “The church is anything but a neat structure being in a most dilapidated state, with walls considerably out of the perpendicular and roof decayed. The pewing of the church is most unsightly and will not accommodate one fifth of the population. Scarcely a vestige of anything ancient remains except a niche near the pulpit on the south side of the Nave, supposed to have been used for a lamp or hour-glass in
former times; an Early English piscina (a
stone basin)”.

 It is also known that there was a Gallery at the West End of the church where musicians used to sit, but there was no Vestry and the Clergy had to robe in the ringing room which at that time was on the ground floor. At a later date the ringers moved to the floor above where they still are.

This then was the state of affairs when the Rev’d Edward Niblett was appointed to the living in 1853. The “Rambler in Worcestershire” failed to mention that the building was surrounded by bushes and undergrowth – perhaps this had hidden from the eyes of the parishioners the poor condition of the walls and one of the first things the new Rector did was to have everything cleared away. The poor condition of the roof also let the rain in and it is recorded that the floor of the Chancel often had water on it and boards had to lie down so that the Clergy could officiate without getting their feet wet!

Many momentous changes took place in England during the life of this building, Perhaps the most significant was the Reformation under Henry VIII. Prior to this event, all churches in England had been under the control of the Papacy in Rome, but the Pope’s refusal to grant Henry VIII a divorce was to alter all that. In 1543 was passed the Valor Ecclesiasticus, a measure which passed control of all churches, abbeys and monasteries to the King. This led to great changes including the destruction of many of the great monasteries and abbeys, the sale of their lands and confiscation of their wealth and, of course, a new name – The Church of England.

 Following the Valor of 1543, the value of the church in the parish was valued at £5-8s-2d. The money was collected by the Bailiff, one Richard Watts, and paid to the King, rather than as normal to Rome. The silver chalice was also removed with other valuables and perhaps in penance for her father’s greed, a silver chalice was added during the reign of Elizabeth I (1571) and is still used today on important feast days. Other than that, these changes appear to have had little effect on the church in Redmarley, but for those involved in the political and religious life of the country, these were dangerous times.

At this time an estate in the parish called “The Park” was part of the holdings of the Bishop of London and its main purpose appears to have been to supply the Bishop’s table with venison. (It later became the site of the popular “Redmarley Races”). It was managed by one George Shipside who was married to the sister of Nicholas Ridley. Although brought up in the Roman tradition he had shown sympathy towards Henry in his desire to obtain a divorce and thus was rewarded by him being first appointed Chaplain to Archbishop Cranmer and later given the Bishopric of London in 1550.

His downfall came when, following the death of Henry’s son Edward, he unwisely championed the cause of Lady Jane Grey as successor to the throne, rather than Edward’s sister, Mary. Mary was a staunch Catholic and became known as ‘Bloody Mary’ in her determined persecution of all those churchmen who had gained high places under her father and brother. Ridley was arrested, tried and sentenced to death by burning. Whilst awaiting his fate, Ridley was attended by his brother-in law, George Shipside and after his death at the stake in October 1555, George returned to Redmarley. He died in 1604 and was buried within the walls of the church. There is a memorial plaque in the present church to this effect between the organ and the East window.

 These momentous changes in the life of the country did not appear to have any effect on this small parish tucked away in the far-off Gloucestershire. Robertus Saunder was appointed Priest of Redmarley Parish in 1485, 25 years before Henry became king and remained in the parish right through these troubled times until his death in 1556 at the height of the excesses of Mary. His successor, Johannes Mery lived through the changes when Elizabeth became Queen and died in office in 1579.

Whilst details of the building are virtually non-existent, there is plenty of evidence to show that the church in Redmarley was playing an important part in the life of the village. The parish registers which recorded the births, marriages and deaths of parishioners over hundreds of years are virtually intact and provide a complete record from the 14th century. These are now stored safely at the Records Office in Gloucester. There is a complete record of these details (both on computer disc and register) kept in the village and they are available to anyone wishing to trace a long dead relative.

The church appears on many returns. One, dated 27th October 1585, records the visitation of the Right Reverend Father in God, Edmund, Bishop of Worcester. He came on 1st September of that year and the record shows that the two Churchwardens, Henry Churchy and John Jones, together with Thomas Balden and William Barstone (two of the oldest and most substantial parishioners) set down on oath that the Bible in use in Redmarley Church was the one authorised for use, containing the Old and New Testaments, and printed by Her Majesty’s printer, Christopher Barker, and confirmed that Her Majesty was now the patron of the Benefice of Redmarley D’Abitot.

Another return from the same period gives details of the land belonging to the Parsonage as follows: the holding of arable land is estimated at about 14 acres, whilst the pasture is about 23 acres. In addition there is about half an acre of meadow land together with the closes, the garden and all other ground not mentioned above of about a further 2 acres. (The Churchyard is not included in these amounts). Apart from the Rectory, there was one small cottage on the glebe for which a rent of 4d per year was paid.

Following the restoration of Charles II  in 1660, the new Bishop of Worcester, Bishop Morley, visited the parish as part of his progress round the Diocese and the following is recorded on this visitation:

Master William Kimberley, Rector of Redmarley DAbitot, appears and exhibits letters of orders conferred by John Thornburgh, late Bishop of Worcester, but he has not institution. Master John Vinsent, schoolmaster, appears but he has not a license and he refuses to take the oath of supremacy.

The Rev’d Kimberley had been appointed Minister to the parish when control of state and church passed to Cromwell following the execution of Charles I in 1649 and the setting up of The Commonwealth of England. We do not know if his predecessor, Thomas Baldwin, appointed by Charles [James] I in 1608, died as Rector or was removed by the new order. The restoration of the Monarchy took place in 1660, and after the above visitation, the Rev’d Kimberly was ejected from the living. The patronage was given to one Henricus Jackson of Feckingham and he, in turn, appointed Decimus Jackson as the new incumbent. (It is not known whether they were related but it seems likely). It also seems rather strange that William Kimberley’s name does not appear on the list of Incumbents of Redmarley printed in Nash’s ‘History of Worcestershire’ .

A census was carried out in 1676 within the province of Canterbury (which took in the parish) and it is recorded that in Redmarley the total of Conformists was 302, there were 9 Papists and 9 non-Conformists.

Another return dated July 29th 1714 states that the parsonage is in good repair with a decent garden, stabling, etc.


The Church of Today

 As already mentioned the church building was in a parlous state when the Reverend Edward Niblett was appointed Rector in 1853 and he immediately began to make plans to rebuild the church. Fortunately for us, virtually all the details of this work are intact and are stored at the Records Office in Gloucester. However I was able to obtain access to them and copies of the specifications, the accounts, the appeal for money and a list of the donors, the estimates and details of the work carried out are all recorded on computer. Not all the original drawings have survived but those which are available have been scanned and stored with the other details in a booklet entitled “The Re-Building of Redmarley Church 1855-1856”,

Two years later, in 1855, the old church (apart from the Tower) was completely demolished and work began on building a new church, The architect who drew up the plans for an enlarged church, twice the size of the old one, was a relative of the Rector, Mr Francis Niblett. A local builder from Eldersfield submitted an estimate of £1369 and this was accepted. The foundation stone was laid on 11th July, 1855 by the Rector’s eldest son.

Apart from the Tower, nothing of this former building survives except various memorial plaques, a Table of Benefactions erected in 1740 and now in the Tower Vestry, a large oak chest dated 1751 and bearing the names of the churchwardens of that time, William Ferrett and Thomas Hendy, also in the Tower Vestry. Two oak carved chairs also survived and can be seen in the Sanctuary. They are dated 1632. The old font was buried near the site of the new proposed entrance porch, the rubble and stone from the walls was used in the foundations or carried away and the old box pews suffered the same fate. Curiously, contemporary accounts make no mention of the fact that about a dozen people were interred in the Chancel area of the old building and it must be assumed that the remains were not disturbed and are still buried somewhere beneath the present church.

 No mention is made of the arrangements for worship during the period of rebuilding but a local newspaper certainly gave full coverage to the reopening of the new church on 5th June 1856, less than a year after the start of the work as follows:

“On Thursday last, 5th June 1856, the Parish Church of Redmarley was reopened for Divine Service after complete renovation on an enlarged scale. The old church was not only much dilapidated, but was incapable of accommodating more than 150 persons, the population being 1100. The new building which has arisen in its stead affords accommodation for 500. 

It has been erected in a substantial and handsome manner for the comparatively small sum of £1200, towards which D.J.Niblett, Esq. of Haresfield Court, contributed £200; his lordship the Earl Beauchamp and the rector each £100; his lordship having besides erected the beautiful oak porch as a cost of no less than £60. The remainder has been given by the Church Building Society and contributors of smaller sums, with the exception of nearly £100 which remains due.

In the chancel we noticed a well designed and handsome window of stained glass, in memory of Mrs Stokes. The services both in the morning and the afternoon were attended by a crowded congregation composed of all classes. It was pleasing to see the procession of clergy and choristers in their surplices (preceded by school children carrying banners which floated gaily in the sunshine) ascending the footpaths from the Rectory § to the church. On entering the churchyard the choir chanted Psalm cxxxiv.

Morning prayers were read by the Rev’d A Newton, curate of Redmarley: the Lessons by the Rev’ds T Little and F Bayly The rector celebrated the Holy Communion and the Rev’ds W J Edge and H A S Atwood reading the Epistle and the Gospel. The sermon was preached by the Rev’d W Symmonds, rector of Pendock, from Lev. xix, 30. The offertory amounted to £5-6s-2d.

In the afternoon there was full Choral Service, with the Rev’d F Bayly officiating as precentor, the Rev’ds C Glynn and W Bedford reading the Lessons and the Rev’d W J Edge preaching 1 Cor.xi.22. The collection amounted to £9-18s-6d. After the second lesson the rector’s infant daughter was baptised. The Eastnor Choir, under the direction of Mr Jagg, acquitted themselves with great skill and harmony; and between the services the rector and his lady entertained large parties of guests of various ranks with great courtesy and hospitality”.

§ This refers to the Old Rectory near Playley Green which is now a private residence. At that time the land between the Rectory and the Church was part of the Glebe and provided a convenient path for the Rector between the two sites. There is still a right of way over this land which forms part of  the circular Redmarley walk.

 In order to raise the money to pay for the re-building of the church, a subscription list was opened and this raised a total of £1137. Details of this subscription list can be found later.

Certain gifts were made to the church at this time as follows:

The Porch was the gift of the ‘Earl Beauchamp. The Font, made of stone and lined with lead, was given by the Rector, the old one being buried near the entrance door … The Rector also gave the pair of carved Chancel chairs.

The Tiles on the Chancel floor were donated by the Misses Palmers of the Down House and the Rector who shared the costs.

The Lectern was given by the Niblett family in remembrance of Daniel John Niblett, J.P., D.L., patron of the living who had died on 31st August 1862.

The East Window was given in memory of Sarah Gisbourne Molyneux Stokes and placed in position at the time of the rebuilding. The window was made by Heaton, Butler and Bayne of London and is in three sections. The left depicts the Last Supper, the centre shows scenes of the crucifixion and the right section depicts the manifestation of Christ to His disciples.

The next item of note in church affairs occurred eight years later on September 18th, 1864 when the new organ was dedicated.

Apart from the East Window there were no stained glass windows in the church until 1864 when the first one was put in. The window chosen was the one at the west end of the North Aisle (now known as the Lady Chapel, but not in existence in those days). The new window was to be a memorial to Charles Lingard Stokes, late Chief Officer of the Locomotive Department of the Bengal Division of the East Indian Railway Company. He died on January 19th, 1864 at the age of 37 years and the window to his memory was subscribed by the European foremen, drivers and native servants of that railway.

Four other stained glass windows were put in during this period and were all donated by the Stallard family in memory of various members of the family. The four windows were all placed in the Nave, two on the South side between the Lectern and the Porch and the other two on the North side, adjacent to the window in memory of Mr Stokes.

On the South side, the first was put up in memory of Joseph Stallard, who died on 25th February 1869, aged 84 years, by his two daughters Elizabeth Stallard and Sarah Anne Symes. The one next to it was put there in memory of Elizabeth Stallard, wife of the above mentioned Joseph and mother of Elizabeth and Sarah Anne. She had died in 1857 and her son, also called Joseph, completed this pair of windows.

He died in November 1879 and his surviving sister, Elizabeth (Sarah Anne having died) put up the window on the North side in his memory. She also, a year later, donated the stained glass window next to it in “pious and thankful remembrance of the long connection of the family with the parish”. (All these windows have brass plaques attached to the wall below the sill.)

Ten years were to pass before the next stained glass window was placed in the church. The son of the Curate, Archibald Kennedy Ankertell, was killed in an accident at Durbridge on 21st March 1878 and in 1890 his father put up a window on the South side of the Chancel (opposite the organ) in his memory. It depicts an angel with the inscription “Let not your heart is troubled”. At the apex is a child’s face.

It was 1913 before the last of the stained glass windows arrived. It was given by the Rector of the time, the Rev’d H Morton Niblett, in memory of his father and was placed in the other window in the Chancel (opposite the Ankertell window).

To go back a little time, The Rev’d H Morton Niblett (the author of “The History of Redmarley D’Abitot”) had been appointed to succeed his father as Rector in 1882 and in 1886 an additional half acre was added to the churchyard on the east-side. The land was donated by Lord Beauchamp. Stone for the walls was taken from a field near the Scar and hauled to the churchyard free of charge by some farmers. The total cost amounted to £76 and most of this was raised by public subscription. A sum of £25, an accumulation of rent of the old Workhouse (now a private residence known as Church House), was also given and the new section was consecrated by the Bishop of Worcester on July 26th 1868. A further extension to the churchyard was added in 1948 and enclosed by iron railings. This section was consecrated for burial in 1974 by the Bishop of Worcester when the Rev’d Burley was Rector. A further small section of unconverted ground remains behind the bungalows which are adjacent to the church.

Between 1888 and 1889 the Rev’d H Morton Niblett instigated a number of improvements to the church. At the time of the rebuilding, the interior of the church had been whitewashed, but this gave a very cold look to the church and so the interior was coloured for the first time. The Tower, which had been neglected, was reappointed and two of the buttresses which were leaning away were pinned back. The Belfry steps were also repaired and new entrance gates were put in place. The cost of this work was £137.

This burst of activity brought forward a flurry of gifts to the church. The Rector started it by giving a new oak altar (currently in use) to replace a smaller one and he followed this by giving a violet frontal, a brass Altar Cross (jewelled) and a pair of brass candlesticks and a large flagpole for the top of the Tower.

His wife gave a new white frontal (a wooden frame set into the front of the altar and covered with cloth, the colour of which represented the various seasons of the church year). Mrs Simpkins worked and presented a green frontal and Mr Paulet gave a new Bible for the Lectern, four hanging brass lamps for the Chancel, a brass Altar Lectern and set of curtains to hide the rather garish Victorian tiles which covered the walls on either side of the Altar and Mr & Mrs Townsend of Hill fields gave a long kneeler to cover the altar steps.

Many churches have now dispensed with the system of using frontals and, instead, cover the altar with an all seasons cloth of decorated brocade. The top is then covered with a piece of white linen. In Redmarley the various seasons are now represented by paraments which hang centrally over the front of the altar. They are much smaller than frontals and much easier to store. Our set of paraments were designed and made by Mrs P Maddocks and Mrs S Hale, wives of the Churchwardens, between 1989/90 and donated in memory of Basil Morton Niblett.

In 1914 the organ received its first proper overhaul since its installation. Cleaning and restoring cost £20; a new pedal-board cost £25 and an extra Dulciana stop was added at a cost of £5. The cost of £50 was raised as follows: Lady Bullough £10-0-0, the Misses Newbury £10-0-0, Mrs Scobell £2-2-0, Mr Barrett £2‑0‑0, and the Niblett family £4-0-0. A Rummage Sale raised £7-10-0 and a Concert £5-8-8d.

The year before the Rev’d H Morton Niblett retired (1924) he presented the church with the frontals for the Altar. He retired the following year after 43 years as Rector and his son, Basil Morton Niblett, was appointed Rector. (The appointment of three generations of the same family as Rectors was possible because of the system of patronage). The Niblett family owned the patronage and were thus able to choose who was to be the new Rector. At the present time the patronage of Redmarley is held jointly by the Niblett family and the Bishop of Gloucester. The latter has suspended the living, giving him the choice of selecting an Incumbent, and deciding whether the new priest is inducted and instituted (given the right of the freehold and tenure – a permanent position) or becomes Priest-in-Charge. Here the Bishop may, if he so wishes, ask the incumbent to move to another group or even accept additional parishes if circumstances change.

Like his father before him, the new Rector set about making improvements and the interior of the building received another colouring -this time a warm cream colour was selected and the florid ornamentation of the walls with passages of scripture in scrolls, so beloved by Victorians, was painted over. This cost just over £154 and an invitation to every house in the parish to offer a subscription resulted in £102 being received, though the bulk of the money was given by Sir & Lady Bullough – £50; Major & Mrs Bullough – £25 and the Misses Simpson – £20.

The large, brass Processional Cross used today was donated at this time by Lady Bullough, together with the pair of three-branched Sanctuary oak candle-sticks. She also gave three Chancel lamps to replace the hanging oil lamps which obscured the view of the altar. These lamps have long since disappeared and rumour has it that they are buried somewhere in the churchyard!! Various other small gifts, including a small oak table given by the Rector, and vails, burses and other linen were received.

 It is recorded that the first P.C.C, met on July 31st, 1925 and that their first duty was to consider the offer of Sir George Bullough to donate two choir desks in memory of the Rector’s father, Henry Morton Niblett. The result was that on December 11th, 1925, two choir desks, made of Austrian oak by Messrs Sprague and Evans of Worcester, were dedicated by the Rev’d H Mallison, with the following inscription .on one of the desk ends:-

These choir desks, the gift of a parishioner, are dedicated to the Glory of God, and in grateful
remembrance of Henry Morton Niblett
, M.A., Rector of this parish from 1882 to 1925.

On the other ends of the desks are carved the Arms of the donor, the Arms of the Diocese and the Arms of St Bartholomew, the patron saint of the church. Four of the panels are carved to represent some emblems of the Passion, the scourge, the crown of thorns, the seamless robe and the dice, and the chalice. The ends are topped by carved fleur-de-Iys and a careful inspection will show that the one nearest the organ is slightly different in colour from the others. The original was missing and a replacement was carved by Mr Douglas Bullock, a choir member, in 1991. Sadly, Mr Bullock died suddenly in May 1994.

The thirties began with a burst of activity when, in 1931, the Tower Vestry was enlarged to its present size by removing the Children’s Gallery. It was during this year that the chalice and paten which are used today were received. The chalice bears the inscription: To the Glory of God. In memory of Susan Wheeler 1843-1931.

The following year saw the creation of the Lady Chapel. Pews were removed from the East end of the North transept and an Altar was placed against the east wall.

The Sanctuary Light arrived in 1935. It was given to Redmarley Church by Mr W H Tellam, organist from 1935 to 1939 when he left to join the Army at the outbreak of World War II. The lamp had formerly been in Sudeley Castle and Mr Tellam bought it at an auction. In those days Mr Tellam lived in Gloucester and he cycled to Redmarley each Sunday to play the organ for three services. He also had choir practice on Friday evenings!

When the Rev’d Basil Morton Niblett retired in 1955, the succession of Rectors bearing the Niblett name through Edward, Henry and Basil – which had lasted 100 years – ended. The priest selected to follow the Niblett tradition was Paul Goodwin Young and he was instituted as Rector by the Bishop of Worcester, the Right Rev’d L M Charles Edwards. In his address the Bishop spoke of the devotion bestowed on the parish by Basil Morton Niblett during 34 years of faithful service and of the deep trust that had been built up between the parishioners and the Niblett family over a century of service, The Bishop stated that the Rev’d Young had been chosen by the Rev’d Niblett to take over this great responsibility. He continued, Mr Niblett knew everyone. Mr Young doesnt. How can he? Don’t imagine that he had the gift of second sight. You must tell him when people are ill, or otherwise in need of his help and dont forget to tell him about the happy events in this parish. Be guided by him”. Basil Morton Niblett died in 1959 and, like his father before him, was buried in the churchyard.

1968 saw a complete renovation of the Lady Chapel plus a concerted effort to tidy up the churchyard. There was discussion about tarmac for the paths but it was shelved because of some objections from P.C.C. members. During the year it was becoming obvious that a crack on the north buttress of the Tower needed attention. It was also noted that several of the down pipes were badly corroded and would need repair or replacement.

The decade of the seventies began with a year of innovations when, in 1970, the new Deanery and Diocesan Synods sat for the first time. In 1972 tragedy struck when the Rector’s daughter, Joan, died suddenly from a brain haemorrhage. To help them recover from this, they both travelled to South Africa (Mrs Young’s home) and on their return the Reverend Young again took up his duties as Rector but following further illness he announced his decision to retire in 1974. He and his wife retired to Somerset.

A pair of brass fan shaped flower vases and a large brass display vase were bought by public subscription in Joan’s memory. Unfortunately, like many other gifts to the church over the years, they are considered too valuable to remain on display during the week but are always placed on the shelf behind the altar for services.

After a fairly long interregnum, the next incumbent to arrive was the Rev’d Burley and he was destined to be the last Rector of Redmarley in the Diocese of Worcester. Some large legacies were received in the early part of 1974 from the Hartill estate amounting to £1144 for the upkeep of the fabric and £572 for the upkeep of the churchyard. Both these sums were invested with the Central Board of Finance and proved eventually to be wise investments.

1976 saw the successful negotiations to transfer the parish to the Diocese of Gloucester and the Rev’d Moxon became the first Priest-in-Charge of a new Benefice consisting of Redmarley, Pauntley, Upleadon and Oxenhall. Bromesberrow was added at a later date and so ended an association with the Diocese of Worcester which had lasted some 700 years.

John Moxon was succeeded by Raymond Martin and on his appointment as Rector of the parish of Falfield in the south of the Diocese, the Rev’d Dr Terry Williams became Rector, though at the time no one realised that he would be the last Rector of the Redmarley Group of parishes.

Dr Williams decided to retire in 1999 and immediately plans were made to amalgamate the two benefices of the Redmarley group of five with the Dymock group of four, thus making a new benefice of 9 parishes under one incumbent – the Rev’d Patricia Phillips.


The Glebe

Perhaps one should not complete this short history of our Parish Church without reference to the Glebe and Queen Anne’s Bounty. When the parish system was set up, each church was given a parcel of land to provide the Priest with an income so that he could support himself and also provide monies to be paid into a central fund which was controlled by the papacy. These monies were made up of the ‘first fruits’ and the ‘tenths’; an amount equal to the first year’s income from the Glebe which was a one-off payment (first fruits) plus an annual payment equal to one tenth of the yearly income (tenths).

Obviously the Priest would not farm this land himself, but would rent it out to local farmers. He would also be entitled to a tenth or tithe of the produce from the land from which the payments mentioned above would be made, leaving the surplus for him. Whether he received this in cash or kind was up to him to arrange. This was the sole source of income for the priest as he received no stipend from central funds. This was to come much later. Today, of course, all priests in the Church of England receive a salary (stipend), partly from the Church Commissioners but mostly from the Diocese in which the church stands. Priests in the Roman tradition still receive no direct income from central funds and are dependent on the parishioners for their needs. Following the Reformation the glebe income was paid to King Henry VIII, having confiscated all these dues for himself. This continued until the accession of Queen Anne who set up her “Bounty”.

When Henry VIII had his quarrel with the Papacy and thus began the process known as the Reformation, the King took over the control of the Roman church in England. In 1534 a Valor Ecclesiasticus was passed which gave Henry full control of the Church in England and which also made him the beneficiary of the two taxes mentioned above. In Redmarley this amounted to a sum of £5-8s-2d, a paltry sum by modern standards, but when this was added to the taxes from all the parishes in the country, a not inconsiderable sum was added annually to the King’s income.

It is recorded that at the beginning of the 18th century this annual income from ‘first fruits’ and ‘tenths’ amounted to between £16,000 and £18,000 per year and provided the monarch with an extra source of income in addition to that provided by Parliament. It is at this point in history that Queen Anne enters the story.

Queen Anne’s Bounty

Anne became queen in 1702 and expressed great concern over the disparity of stipends of clergy. There were those who enjoyed a considerable income which had grown over the years with additions of monies left to particular churches by an increasingly rich middle-class. Indeed, some parishes provided such a good living that the incumbent was able to live an extremely comfortable life. There were many with incomes of over £1000 per year and these livings were ‘bought’ and ‘sold’ as pieces of property. A rich father, often titled, having purchased a pair of colours in the Army for the second son (the first inheriting the property), would then purchase a good living for the third! Perhaps even worse was the practice of ‘pluralism’ where a well endowed priest would acquire several livings. He would install a curate to look after each parish, often at a very meagre salary, and sit back and collect the revenues from those livings. Happily this practice died out towards the end of the 18th Century.

On the other hand, there were many priests who worked in less well endowed parishes and they often lived in poverty. Towns were growing in size and the churches being built there were not surrounded by a large expanse of glebe like the older churches in rural areas. Some had incomes of less than £20 a year and there were thousands with less than £50. Thus in 1704, Queen Anne announced her intention to surrender the revenues she enjoyed from the ‘first fruits’ and ‘tenths’ for the benefit of the clergy of the Church. She proposed that this income of some £18,000 per annum should be used to augment the stipends of the thousands of incumbents who had to exist on an income of less that £50 per year. It was necessary to gain the support of the House of Commons to pass an act making this possible, and Marlborough, who was at this time a favourite of the Queen, was quite cynical in giving the measure his full support since this would please the Tories and get their support for the war against the French. (Politicians don’t change, do they!!)

The Act 2-3 An.c.20 was thus passed ‘for making more effectual Her Majesty’s gracious intentions’. The Act emphasised the evils that would follow from the clergy depending for their necessary maintenance upon the goodwill and liking of their hearers“, which places them under temptation of too much complying and suiting their doctrines and teaching to the humours rather than the good of their hearers.

It also provided for a corporation to hold and administer the proposed revenue from the crown and on 3rd November 1704, Letters Patent were issued appointing some two hundred Governors of the Bounty of Queen Anne. They were selected from men already seriously overworked and included Bishops, Deans, Lord Lieutenants, Privy Councillors and Mayors of the cities in England.

Things did not get off to a good start. The revenues were found to be greatly in arrears and heavily encumbered and it was necessary in 1706 and 1707 to pass further Acts discharging all livings of less than £50 a year of any further payments of ‘first fruits’ or ‘tenths’. This affected over 3,500 livings and reduced the income by about £3000 per year.

By 1713 the back-log of administration had been cleared away and the Governors were able to begin their proper work and 28 poor livings were awarded £200 each. Unfortunately many strange methods were used to determine recipients from the fund. For example, the names of deserving parishes were placed in a ballot box and as many were drawn out as there were grants of £200 to distribute! Over the next hundred years, this system gave some livings as many as five grants, while other equally deserving clergy got nothing.

As the number of claims rose, so did the deciding income, from £35 to £60 in 1804 and to £200 in 1820. By 1836 most of the money was gone and the ballot system was abandoned. Parliament, under pressure from Tory governments, made eleven grants of £100,000 each to the fund and there was also a steady flow from private benefactions. By 1867 the fund stood at £2,000,000 and by 1867 it had reached £3,500,000. From this amount the Governors gave grants which increased from £11,000 a year to £35,000 in 1899. By this time the fund stood at £7,500,000.

From 1777 the Governors were able to lend money on mortgages to incumbents for building or repairing parsonages and it was in this respect that Queen Anne’s Bounty was used in this parish in the mid 19th century by the Rev’d Edward Niblett to make repairs and improvements to the Rectory in Playley Green.

There were further changes in the administration of Queen Anne’s Bounty over the next 50 years or so until it finally disappeared in 1948 when it was amalgamated with the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to form the present form of financial control of the Church of England – the Church Commissioners.

Note: When the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and Queen Anne’s Bounty were amalgamated to form the Church Commissioners, all investments held by any church were incorporated into the general funds with the interest being used on a national basis. Redmarley Church no longer receives any funding from these or any other investments given as gifts other than as a part of the incumbent’s stipend.